We started our Monterey stop with a walk through Cannery Row, immortalized in the John Steinbeck classic (you guessed it) “Cannery Row.” Which I read once and thought was about canaries. No, no, while it’s true that I did read it, I actually don’t remember anything about it. I told Sarah’s parents, “I think it was about fish and sadness.” Which gave Sarah’s dad a chance to tell us an old Woody Allen gag: “I took a speed reading class and read War and Peace in forty-five minutes. It was about Russia.” All the old canneries have since been changed to shops and restaurants, but many of the facades have been maintained, and it made for a nice walk as we made our way to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
We expected that Teddy wouldn’t be too jazzed by canneries or banners emblazoned with Steinbeck quotes, but we were pretty sure we could catch his attention with giant fish. And we were right. When Teddy gets excited, he gets shouty, and let me tell you that Teddy shouted at a whole lot of fish that day. Small sharks, clown fish, giant bass, starfish—all shout-worthy. Beyond this, we saw a group of otters super close up, a really small great white shark (I don’t think it should be considered great if it isn’t bigger than Gunther), and a pile of penguin (not a literal pile). After this, we stopped into El Torito, which is a Mexican restaurant that Sarah and her parents visited twenty-one years ago (and where Sarah’s mom had her one and only margarita). Our waitress was an excellent upseller, because we all ended up with double-sized drinks (except for Teddy, and Sarah’s mom—although she was more than happy to shoot back the side of Grand Marnier that came with my drink. I’m just saying.) The food—I should also mention—was excellent. Next: back to the ship and on to the next port.
After a sea day came Catalina. I don’t have a hell of a lot to say about this port. It was nice enough, but a bit of a snore. We probably would have appreciated it more if it had come earlier, but after San Francisco, Seattle… Catalina was just sort of there. It’s a getaway island for people from Southern California, eighty percent of it is a nature preserve, and car rentals are non existent (the best you can get is a golf cart). Having typed that all out just now, I realize: Catalina, it wasn’t you, it was me.
Anyhow, we had a meal at a restaurant that none of us remember the name of, took a walk to a casino that wasn’t really a casino*, and then we went back to the ship.
*In Italian, casino means ‘meeting place.’ So it was just a meeting place. That you had to pay sixteen bucks to get inside. And again: not actually a casino. We didn’t go inside.